London trust faces fine for failure to prevent manslaughter of nurse

A mental health trust is facing a huge fine after admitting it
failed in its duty of care to a nurse killed by a patient diagnosed
with schizophrenia.

South West London and St George’s Mental Health NHS Trust will be
sentenced on 28 April for failing to protect psychiatric healthcare
assistant Eshan Chattun, who was beaten to death at Springfield
Hospital, Tooting, in June 2003.

The Health and Safety Executive, which mounted the prosecution,
said it was the first NHS trust to be prosecuted for neglect
contributing to the death of an employee, under section 2 of the
Health and Safety at Work Act 1974.

This section states that every employer has a duty “to ensure, so
far as is reasonably practicable, the health, safety and welfare of
all his employees”.

Magistrates referred the case up to the Old Bailey for sentencing
because of its severity after the trust pleaded guilty to the
offence earlier this month. The court can impose an unlimited fine,
though no individual will be punished for the breach as the trust
has been convicted as a corporate body.

Chattun was killed by Jason Cann, after being left alone with him
in the John Meyer ward at Springfield, shortly after Cann had been

Cann was convicted of manslaughter in January and, following the
trial, the South West London Strategic Health Authority
commissioned the Healthcare Commission to investigate the

Trust chief executive Nigel Fisher said: “On behalf of the trust
once again I would like to extend my deepest sympathy to the
Chattun family. The trust has worked fully with the Health and
Safety Executive to implement changes to minimise the risk of such
a tragedy occurring again.”

Changes include a £750,000 upgrade of the John Meyer ward,
including CCTV and an alarm system, an increase in the number of
qualified staff on the ward, and a new unit for people with
challenging behaviour.

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